• Has my passion for redundancy gone too far?
  • Innovation creates more industries than it destroys jobs
  • Investing is artificial intelligence’s next frontier

A few years ago, I found myself on stage with Bill Bonner, the founder of our business, which goes back to Baltimore in the 1980s. The panel was asked about artificial intelligence (AI), robots and automation. To my horror, Bill declared he was worried about what it would mean for jobs, especially low-skilled ones, and, thereby, social and economic stability.

Now, Agora, as we call the bundle of independent publishing companies that Bill created, is famously diverse in its opinions. The group is designed to publish experts whose views people want to hear, not the views that the mainstream media approves of. The gap between the two is our niche. This extends to places like healthcare and diets, not just the financial world.

The result of this policy is that there is no company line to toe. We disagree with each other all the time. And each publisher is expected to publish views that he doesn’t necessarily agree with. This confuses some of our readers, who don’t appreciate the debate and diversity. But most people love it.

The thing is, I may have gone a bit far when I answered the question on stage that night…

You see, I think technological innovation creates more jobs than it replaces. In fact, I suspect it creates more industries than the number of jobs it destroys, given time. Innovation makes people more productive – the true source of wealth and income for everyone, regardless of their skill level.

More importantly, I consider this to be painfully obvious given history. If innovation led to unemployment, we’d all be unemployed by now. Despite the government’s best efforts, that hasn’t happened. Instead, each phase of innovation seems to be followed by spurts of economic development that lead to higher employment, not unemployment.

A few days ago, I saw someone dig out a headline from the Washington Post in the 1980s. It said something like, “Economists warn full employment will be impossible in the age of computers”. It’s absurd in hindsight. But the same arguments get made today about new technologies all the time.

Why don’t people see the evidence? Why do they repeat the same fears? Why do they think the latest technological innovation is different from the ones that came before?

What actually happened when it came to computers was that those who worked on processing and clerical jobs now do something else, often in industries that only exist thanks to computing. Whatever they’re doing instead is a measure of how much wealthier we became as a result of the innovation because it freed up labour to produce an additional something.

When I tried to explain all of this on stage, even the audience was aghast that I’d completely undermined my own boss by declaring it to be obvious given the course of history.

To be fair, this was probably an improvement from the time I first met Bill at his chateaux in France in 2010. I had food poisoning and was eating plain rice, my first meal in a day or two. I heard someone walk in and sit down next to me, but I didn’t take much notice because he spoke fluent French. Given that Americans like Bill can’t speak French without a funny accent, I assumed it was someone else. But it turned out to be Bill after all, which didn’t help me swallow even the single grain of rice I had been chewing on.

Let’s hope Bill didn’t remember me too well either time…

But, perhaps, I’m just biased about this whole technological progress thing… like I was biased about Americans speaking French.

You see, I have a passion for making myself redundant. And not just by challenging my own boss on stage in front of our customers…

As a child, I liked the idea of building a marble run that hoists its own marbles back up to the top using some sort of lift. I liked computer games that involved trying to design a self-governing and functioning system rather than shooting at bots.

To my mind, an entrepreneur truly succeeds if they can step away and their business continues to function. I hope that I raise my children to be independent. I’d love to set up my garden to water itself on a timer. I get furious that my children’s night lights remain on when the room is bright enough to see in.

Given that worldview, innovations only improve things. They make something more likely to function without needing human intervention, allowing people to go on and do something else instead. That’s practically the definition of progress, in my eyes.

My question to you is simple: what if investing is about to be upended by the latest technological innovation? What if AI is about to make me redundant? What if you should be spending our time asking RoboCop what stocks to buy instead of reading my work?

Well, the good news, for me anyway, is that this does not appear to be how things are unfolding for AI. It is aligning very nicely with my own theories about technological progress so far. Bill’s company will go on to prosper yet!

Instead of AI replacing me, it is set to make me (and you) dramatically more productive at making investing decisions. It is freeing up time spent doing things that can now be automated, which we can spend… well, however we like.

I’m spending the time that AI has unlocked for me on finding more investment opportunities, doing more in-depth research, covering more topics in Fortune & Freedom and unlocking more gains for readers.

And, if you learn to use AI, you can too.


My friend Sam Volkering is revealing that today – this afternoon, in fact.

If you’ve seen through the fearmongering on AI, you’ll appreciate just how powerful the tool he has created will be.

If you’re still worried that AI will make me redundant, find out how it’ll happen here.

Until next time,

Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom